Thursday, May 5, 2016

Prairie Chicken

Four days of the week belong to me. When the weather is fine, I am outside as much as possible, although sometimes early in the spring there isn't much to do out there except walk around.

On Tuesday, a hot day, I worked five hours from my home office. I set the stove timer for an hour at a time and after each notifying ping, I went outside to move the sprinkler (Scott thinks if we deep-water the lawn, maybe it will choke out the dandelions), stroll to the end of the driveway, rake leaves off the flower beds, pull some quackgrass from the perennial bed, move some pots, stand on the step and watch the ducks and mudhens fighting loudly (lots of violent splashing!) in the dugout in our back yard, and so on. There is a lot of action out there, in the sky and on the water.

The white-throated sparrows turned up in the yard on Tuesday. Like the robins, which seem particularly large (must've been some good eating in the southern hemisphere this winter), they will hop from tree to tree alongside me when I'm walking. I can't help thinking they find me as curiously fascinating as I find them.

One evening I took a leisurely walk to the north.

I didn't notice anything special in the flooded ditch east of our yard. 
Spruce grouse or, as we call them, prairie chickens, apparently don't like to be ignored. Normally they seem very timid, but this one made a point of calling me back. I didn't even know prairie chickens made this particular loud sound! But I turned around and went back to see what the noise was, and here was this chicken demanding my attention:

A beautiful bird, but no wonder I didn't see it standing there on the branch, still as death.
We stood looking at each other for quite a long while. I had time to zoom the camera in as much as possible — still not enough, but best I could do!

Click to enlarge.
Finally, little Ducky Doodle came trotting along, catching up to me, and the prairie chicken decided to make its exit, and flew back into the bush.

There has been a lot of breast-pounding going on all around our yard as a prairie chicken tries to attract a mate. Or maybe there is more than one male around; who knows. They all look the same, right?

On Tuesday afternoon I had the pleasure of seeing a male, beside our house, with his neck ruff extended in a black circle around his head. He had his eye on a chicken that was crossing our lawn and followed it, haltingly but with great concentration, into the trees. Fingers are crossed that it was a female and that the boychik managed successfully to make his case. If so, we will be seeing the parents with their chicks in a few weeks. It's been a while since we've had that pleasure; you'll recall that our chicken patriarch lost his family to a road grader one winter several years ago and has been lonely and alone ever since.


You comment, I reply:

Maggie Turner has left a new comment on your post "Maggie Turner Answers 5 Questions": 
Thanks so much much Kate! You have some humdinger ideas, you do! 

I'd love to take credit for the idea but saw something similar elsewhere and thought "I could do that!"


Lorna has left a new comment on your post "Trigger Alert: Garter Snake Photo": 
Wood ticks would do me in. On the other hand, I can make teenagers stop harassing the homeless at the Rideau Centre. 

Then my hat's off to you. Wood ticks creep me out, and freak me out when I find one on MOI.